USA Swimming Grand Prix, Charlotte: Ryan Lochte Explodes From Rough Meet With Strong Swim

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, May 13. THE USA Swimming Grand Prix held in Charlotte came to a close with superstar Ryan Lochte finally posting a breakout swim after a meet full of difficult moments that included goggle and laneline issues.

Swimming in a jammer for the first time during the meet after competing in briefs and under serious training duress thus far, Daytona Beach's Ryan Lochte finally had something to enjoy with a 1:57.63 for the men's 200 IM victory. That effort pushed him to third in the world rankings this year behind Michael Phelps (1:56.32) and Thiago Pereira (1:57.11). The time downed Pereira's meet record of 1:58.25 set back in 2009. Lake Forest's Conor Dwyer touched second in 1:59.29 to move to 17th in the world rankings, while Trojan's Eric Shanteau placed third in 2:00.46.

Curl Burke's Katie Ledecky, 15, hammered the women's 800 free field with a sterling time of 8:25.85 to move to fourth in the world rankings this year. Only Rebecca Adlington (8:18.54), Xin Xin (8:22.76) and Mireia Belmonte (8:25.55) have been faster so far. The time smashed the meet record of 8:30.07 set by Chloe Sutton back in 2010, and demolished Ledecky's previous personal best of 8:30.14 set at the Missouri Grand Prix in February. Her effort is also the second fastest by a swimmer 15-and-under in history, as China's Li Xuanxu clocked an 8:24.37 at the 2008 Beijing Games as a 14 year old. NBAC's Gillian Ryan touched second in 8:36.56, while Bluefish's Elizabeth Beisel picked up third in 8:37.40 out of the earlier heats.

California's Caitlin Leverenz chalked up a sterling time of 2:10.25 in the women's 200 IM for the win. That performance was the fifth-fastest performance in the world this year, and bettered the meet record of 2:12.29 set by Katinka Hosszu a year ago. Leverenz now owns two of the top five times in the world this year, after clocking a third-ranked 2:09.71 at the Indy Grand Prix. Bolles School's Ariana Kukors placed second this evening in 2:11.09 to move to eighth in the world, while T2's Elizabeth Pelton grabbed third in 2:11.87 for 13th in the world rankings.

T2's Elizabeth Pelton dropped the hammer with a 32.95 during the final 50 meters to capture the women's 200 back with a 2:09.41 after turning even with much of the field at the 150-meter mark. She's been faster this year with a 10th-ranked 2:08.79 from January. Gator's Stephanie Proud had the best final 50 with a 32.77 to pull to second with a 2:10.58, while Missouri's Dominique Bouchard finished third in 2:11.10. Indiana's Kate Fesenko, still on the comeback path after marriage and becoming a mother, faded to fourth with a 2:11.90 after turning nearly even with Pelton at the 150-meter mark.

Bolles' Ryan Murphy edged Trojan's Omar Pinzon, 1:58.09 to 1:58.12, for the men's 200 back victory. Murphy has been faster with a 16th-ranked 1:57.82 from the Indy Grand Prix in March, while Pinzon moved to 21st in the world rankings with his swim. SwimMAC's Nick Thoman picked up third-place honors in 2:00.26.

AGUA's Lia Neal pipped favorite Jessica Hardy of Trojan by the slimmest of margins, 54.35 to 54.36, for the women's 100 free triumph. Neal jumped to 23rd in the world rankings, while Hardy earned 24th in the rankings. Neal's time cleared her lifetime best of 54.74 that she has clocked on three separate occasions, most recently during prelims. California's Natalie Coughlin rounded out the podium with a third-place time of 54.59.

Trojan's Ricky Berens enjoyed yet another victory in front of a hometown crowd as he dominated the men's 100 free with a 49.07. California's Anthony Ervin, still on the comeback trail at 30 years old, snared second in 49.61, while Australia's Matt Targett earned third in 49.65. Notably, Gideon Louw led qualifying with a 49.44, but scratched finals.

Mission Viejo's Chad La Tourette won the men's 1500 free in 15:06.73 to move to 14th in the world, and ahead of Arthur Frayler (15:09.27) as the top American in the event this year. Club Wolverine's Connor Jaeger took second in 15:07.29 out of the early heats for 15th in the world rankings. Texas' Michael McBroom placed third in 15:16.33.